Fab Checker Boards - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4, Fab-Safety.2, Fab-Modeling.1, Fab-Design.1, Fab-Fabrication.1

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David Taylor
David Taylor
K-12 teacher


This unit involves student learning, practice, and reinforcement of multiple fabrication skills and tools to create personalized checker boards. The student will practice and develop skills surrounding 3D printing, laser cutting, casting and molding, design, problem-solving, and much more. The unit involves multiple lessons and support documents.


Teacher will need to teach students Inkscape, laser cutting, 3D printing, Casting and Modeling with each of the attached lesson plans and provided presentations. The teacher can also add learning lessons over time to check for understanding. For example, the students can use a CAD software to 3D print a personal project and design a laser cut bookmark. They can use Inkscape and a laser cut to show their understanding of the topics, skills, and equipment. It is important to teach, review and reinforce all safety procedures for using all equipment and materials. This is a middle school project. Students will document their work from beginning to end, as well as reflect on it using their digital portfolio (google site) with images, files, videos, and written reflections/explanations.

What You'll Need

Materials List

  • Smoothcast 305
  • Moldstar 15
  • Ease Release 200
  • ⅛” Plywood for laser cutting
  • 3D Printing Filament

Materials attachment: CheckerboardUnitMaterials.pdf

Digital Fabrication Equipment Details


3D Printer

Laser cutter

Molding and Casting Equipment




Design Files attachment: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3tPBZnliO7bNDJaaWJFZUh3UU0


The Instructions

Step One: Introduction to the Project and 3D Printing & CAD

 (3D Printed Checker build project: 3-5 days)

  1. Teacher Directed: Teacher will Introduce a short review of TinkerCAD and how to use files. Show students digital and physical examples of checkers. Explain the casting and modeling process using molds from last year. (see IntroductionintoTinkercad.pptx)
  2. Independent Practice: Students will create two checkers that are no larger than 45x45x8 mm in a CAD software of their choosing. Teacher will monitor progress and help students with the design of their checkers. The teacher will also help with the 3d printing process.
  3. Independent Practice: Students will 3D print the checkers (each checker piece at 1” takes about 20 minutes on an Ultimaker)
  4. Closure/Review: Students will clean up the work area at the end of each class. Students should save their work appropriately.

Step 2: Laser Cutter

90 minutes to 3 hours

TEACHER’S NOTE: Helpful links for students:

  1. Teacher Directed: Teacher will introduce InkScape and the laser cutter using a PowerPoint presentation. The students will learn what it is and how to access it.
  2. Independent Practice: Students will follow along through the presentation on how to use different tools to create and manipulate objects. They will practice these skills throughout the presentation.
  3. Students will create a bookmark using InkScape.The dimensions for the bookmark are 1.25”x7”. The teacher will demonstrate how to use the laser cutter.
  4. Students will then make checkerboard using inkscape and the laser The checkerboard will be 8”x8”.
  5. Closure/Review: Students will review tools each day in InkScape, They will also review laser cutter usage and safety.


90 minutes

TEACHER NOTE: When starting with a hard object, students need rubber mold for casting. When starting with a soft object, students need hard mold for casting.

  1. Teacher Directed: Use the PowerPoint presentation about casting and molding to explain key terms, content and processes. All of the video links below are in the presentation.
  2. I will explain the basic process of casting and molding with the use the videos below:
  1. Teacher Directed: Model for students how to glue their checkers using the hot glue gun to the bottom of the popcorn containers. Students will do this with a partner, so the popcorn container will have four evenly spaced checkers at the bottom.
  2. Independent Practice: Students will mix the silicone materials 1:1 and pour them into the popcorn containers, covering them. For the next class, students will remove the molds and gently cut out the checkers from the molds. Students will then mix the casting material 1:1 and make 16 checkers in the mold. It is highly important that none of the chemicals are accidentally mixed in their tubs.
  1. Closure/Review: Students will clean up the work area at the end of each Students should save their work appropriately.
  2. Homework: Read http://www.afsinc.org/files/methods.pdf

Step 4: Laser Cutting a checkerboard

90 minutes - 3 Hours

TEACHER NOTE: It is Important that students understand how to cut out (stroke style 0.001) the checkerboard and get the right dimensions for it as well as the workplane. Recommend that students bring in wood no thicker than .25 inches thick. Ideally this should be 1⁄8 inches thick. Students may also use cardboard for the project.

  1. Teacher Directed: Teacher will review how to use guidelines and other InkScape tools that are necessary to complete the project.
  2. Teacher will model how to use specific features to support student learning.
  3. Teacher will model how to use a micrometer. This tools is important for finding accuracy with measurements.
  4. Teacher will share a variety of videos and PowerPoint support materials with the students to help with their learning of InkScape.
  5. Independent Practice: Students will create a bookmark that has 8×8 squares totaling 64. Teacher will monitor student progress and answer questions.
  6. Students will need to measure their checker to determine the size of a square and complete the math to determine the dimensions of their square.
  7. As students are working, review with small groups of students how to use the laser cutter and set up formating for laser cutting.
  8. Closure/Review: Students will clean up the work area.


  • (MS-ETS1-1): Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • (MS-ETS1-2): Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • (MS-ETS1-3): Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • (MS-ETS1-4): Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
  • (Fab-Safety.2): I can operate equipment in a Fab Lab following safety protocols.
  • (Fab-Modeling.1): I can arrange and manipulate simple geometric elements, 2D shapes, and 3D solids using a variety of technologies.
  • (Fab-Design.1): I can be responsible for various activities throughout a design process within a group under instructor guidance.
  • (Fab-Fabrication.1): I can follow instructor guided steps that link a software to a machine to produce a simple physical artifact.

Lesson Feedback

One Response

  1. SCOPES-DF March 8, 2019
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